Nuclear Power – A Good Option?

Nuclear Power – A Good Option?

For most people in the world today the drive for green energy is the central issue behind most decisions being made. Typically when green energy is mentioned the two most common concepts that comes to people’s mind is solar and wind energy, but at the same time just a few short decades ago nuclear energy was seen as the world’s greatest source of clean, affordable alternative energy without the messy carbon emissions and other pollutants released by coal, oil or natural gas power facilities.

Nuclear power’s role in the alternative energy sector has recently come back under discussion due to the recent government grant given by President Obama to fund the development of further nuclear power facilities throughout the US. This comes as part of the government’s plan to encourage the establishment of power sources throughout the country in order to lessen the overall dependence upon fossil fuels, however with the $8.3 billion grant being given to support their development many “green” groups are calling the deal foul.

Citing how nuclear energy is one of the leading creators in virtually un-disposable radioactive waste using most traditional energy extraction methods as well as the fact that nuclear reactor construction is a costly, lengthy process where consumers end up paying more for their energy in the long-run than the entire project is worth many people feel that nuclear energy is, in fact, not a viable green option for the planet.

This argument does not take into consideration, however, many of the advancements that have taken place in nuclear energy production and processing capabilities over the past few decades. While it’s true that older nuclear reactors have a relatively low efficiency rate in terms of fuel utilization and processing newer models utilizing a combination of fuel cell and high-proton bombardment arrays can extract energy with much greater efficiency than has been previously seen. This generally creates the dual by product of fresh water and lower level radioactive material that can be re-processed even further for additional uses before disposal, having much less of an overall impact on the environment while offsetting many of the emissions that would be created otherwise through traditional energy creation processes.

While it is true that nuclear power cannot be ever considered fully eco-friendly due to the fact that some radioactive waste is generated in its creation process this does not mean that it is necessarily a “bad” energy source in comparison to other possible energy facilities. Further, the ability for a single nuclear power plant to generate substantially more energy in a small area means that less actual real estate is used to generate power for citizens, something that solar and wind energy farms cannot currently do utilizing our current level of technology.

In the end it boils down to one main consideration: whatever can generate the most power in the cleanest way possible using the shortest amount of time to do so is what will receive financial support in the near future, and currently nuclear power is the best choice for most areas until other energy production methods and catch up.

2 Comments »

  1.  
    Rod Adams Says:

    The $8.3 billion is a loan guarantee, not a grant. There is a substantial difference. A loan guarantee is simply a co-signature. The government will step in an pay off the lenders if – and only if – the primary borrower, Southern Co., defaults. Otherwise, the taxpayers will not pay a dime for the plant. In fact, since the law that established the loan guarantee program requires the borrower to pay a “loan subsidy fee” to the government to cover the cost of the potential liability, the government will actually make money on the deal when the project is successfully completed.

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  2.  
    John Farmer Says:

    If you have intermittent power sources (ie.. wind or solar) you need to have an on demand reliable backup power source (ie.. natural gas) or you risk the occurrence of multi billion dollar brown outs. Nuclear power is not currently considered an on demand power source. This does not mean that a newly designed/approved nuclear power plant can’t eventually become an on demand power source or as they refer to it in the utility industry as load following power source.

    Let me quickly relate a story about the founder of the US Nuclear Navy Admiral Hyman Rickover. He used to challenge his crew to see how fast they were able to change power levels.

    The nuclear crew would find the strongest and quickest sailor and then shout the order “Crash Back”. This is a maneuver that takes a ship from full speed ahead to full reverse. The sailor who was picked by the crew worked quickly to close the forward throttle which brought the ships power from 100% to zero. He then just as quickly opens the reverse throttle bringing the ships power back from zero to 100%.

    During this time the reactor plant operator would watch the reactor plant temperature drop a few degrees. The operator had the option of pull the reactor rods of few centimeters to restore temperature but he didn’t need to.

    This brings me back to my original point it is foreseeable that a nuclear power plant can be designed/approved by the NRC to be a load following power source that could work hand in hand with intermittent power sources like wind and solar. But at last I doubt planet killer Lovins would approve.

    Viva the Nuclear Renaissance,

    Jfarmer9

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